Budget Series | Things that will Cost you on Wedding Day

Are you all loving the Budget Series? We didn’t want to provide a percentage list, because those are everywhere, none of them are accurate, and none of them really account for your priorities. Probably everyone would like at least a tiny bit more wedding money, but the perfect wedding is about weighing all the options and deciding what is right for you and your fiancé. You may think that the costs are all finished on the wedding day, but there are actually quite a few ways that you can accidentally incur additional costs on the wedding day. We have put together a quick list of those for you, and provided some tips that will help you avoid getting an extra bill while you’re off on your honeymoon!

Photo by  Acqua Photo

Photo by Acqua Photo

A Higher Guest Count or Unexpected Guests

If more people show up than you bargained for, it can lead to all kinds of problems - all of which cost money. Finding extra tables, chairs, and food can be a huge hassle on the wedding day, and can incur rush fees if a company has to return to their warehouse, or the caterers need to go to the store. Most times, companies throw in a little extra just in case, but don’t count on this! We recommend extending your guest count by about 5% to be on the safe side!

The Bride or Groom’s Getting Ready Bar Tab

I used to see this ALL the time when I was a planner! The getting ready process for a wedding can take a while, and people tend to order a lot of food and drinks throughout. Many times I had to help reconcile a bar or restaurant tab in the hundreds (or even thousands) from all the bridesmaids and groomsmen ordering shots, mimosas, and snacks before the wedding even began.

The best way to combat this is by having set snacks and drinks in the various spaces, and not allowing your attendants to order from a “tab”. Sure, if Jimmy wants to pay extra for a shot of top-shelf whiskey, he can. But if you have your venue include breakfast snacks, sandwiches for lunch, and a cooler of beers, then you’ll have that cost already settled before the day of the wedding and no unexpected surprises afterward!


Photo by  Brooke Hughes

Photo by Brooke Hughes

Not surprisingly, the alcohol at the reception can also make things complicated. Most venues will have an agreed-upon amount per drink, or will have you pay an open bar cost per person in advance. If you go the latter route, then you are good to go! However, most people think it will be more cost effective to pay per drink, and this is often true. Just make sure you know your guests and their drinking habits before making this decision.

If your venue has a good manager, or you have a coordinator, then they can keep track of the bar tab throughout the night and let you know when it hits a certain number. Then you can decide whether to close it or keep it open at that point (spoiler alert: in all my weddings, no one ever decided to close early, no matter how much it cost. The party is addictive when you’re in the middle of it!).

Depending on your venue, you may be able to avoid this costly issue by providing your own alcohol. Some venues also allow the bar to switch to cash after a certain dollar amount is hit, or after a certain timeframe. Just try to be overestimate in your budget, because then the worst that can happen is you’re pleasantly surprised if your guests don’t drink as much as you estimated! Trust us, it’s way better than the alternative!

Property Damage

Photo by  Embrace Life

Photo by Embrace Life

Of course we have to also mention property damage. This can include small things like broken glasses, or larger issues that result in the destruction of anyone’s property - the venue’s, another guest’s, or any of the other wedding vendors. We all break the occasional glass on the dancefloor, so don’t worry too much about that, but if a fight breaks out and the photographer’s camera gets punched, then you may have a bigger issue. As the client, you and your fiancé are the ones who signed contracts with your vendors, so you’ll be responsible for any damage that occurs, even if it was a guest’s fault. Accidents happen, but this is a great reason to hire a planner - they can help remove heavily intoxicated guests before any major destruction goes down.

Not Cleaning Up Properly

Most venues have policies about breaking down all of your wedding décor and cleaning your belongings out after the wedding. Make sure you read up on these, as there are a few areas that may incur additional fees. For instance, if your venue does not allow late-night pickups, then your florist or rental company may charge additional fees to come strike the next day. The venue may also charge if they have to hold onto personal items in the dressing rooms (for instance, your clothes before you changed into that wedding gown!), or they may have a policy on not holding those pieces at all.

To combat any additional fees, make sure you’re 100% aware of all of your vendors’ strike policies, and assign a (responsible) family member to do a final sweep before leaving the venue!

Photo by  Embrace Life

Photo by Embrace Life

Keeping the Photographer Too Long

This is a big one! You may balk at your photographer’s hourly rate, but most photographers charge more if they have to stay late on the spot the night of the wedding. We recommend booking at least an hour of extra padding time, and going over your timeline with your planner, venue, and photographer individually, to make sure all items are feasible. If you don’t have a planner, then it helps to assign a bridesmaid or tough relative to keep everyone on track - remember, this is not the photographer’s job, and it’s on you to pay for more time if you run over.

Staying Past Last Call

In the same vein, the other vendors will charge fees if you stay late as well. Venues typically have noise ordinances they have to obey from the city, so they will get fined (read: YOU will get fined) if you party too late into the night! The DJ will also charge overtime to cover those extra songs.

We suggest building in a “last call” announcement about 30 minutes before the end of the night, as well as announcing the last song to avoid a request for an encore. Turn off the music at least 15 minutes before your required “get out” time. No one wants to stop the party, so if you think you’ll want to move to a different location, your DJ can announce that, and people will take it as a sign to get moving (PRO TIP: Plan this after party location before the day of your wedding to avoid any confusion). Turning the lights on is always a good kick in the butt as well!